Front Page Titles (by Subject) CASE I. - Four Tracts on Political and Commercial Subjects
The Online Library of Liberty
A project of Liberty Fund, Inc.
Search this Title:
CASE I. - Josiah Tucker, Four Tracts on Political and Commercial Subjects 
Four Tracts on Political and Commercial Subjects, 2nd edition (Glocester: R. Raikes, 1774).
About Liberty Fund:
Liberty Fund, Inc. is a private, educational foundation established to encourage the study of the ideal of a society of free and responsible individuals.
The text is in the public domain.
Fair use statement:
This material is put online to further the educational goals of Liberty Fund, Inc. Unless otherwise stated in the Copyright Information section above, this material may be used freely for educational and academic purposes. It may not be used in any way for profit.
ENGLAND has acquired 20,000,000l. of Specie in the Way of National Idleness, viz. Either by Discoveries of very rich Mines of Gold and Silver,—or by successful Privateering and making Captures of Plate Ships,—or by the Trade of Jewels, and vending them to foreign Nations for vast Sums of Money,—or, in short, by any other conceivable Method, wherein (universal Industry and Application being out of the Question) very few Hands were employed in getting this Mass of Wealth (and they only by Fits and Starts, not constantly)—and fewer still are supposed to retain what is gotten.
According to this State of the Case, it seems evidently to follow, That the Provisions and Manufactures of such a Country would bear a most enormous Price, while this Flush of Money lasted; and that for the two following Reasons: 1st. A people enriched by such improper Means as these, would not know the real Value of Money, but would give any Price that was asked; their superior Folly and Extravagance being the only Evidence which they could produce of their superior Riches. 2dly. At the same Time that Provisions and Manufactures would bear such an excessive Price, the Quantity thereof raised or made within the Kingdom would be less than ever; inasmuch as the Cart, and the Plow, the Anvil, the Wheel, and the Loom, would certainly be laid aside for these quicker and easier Arts of getting rich, and becoming fine Gentlemen and Ladies; because all Persons, whether Male or Female, would endeavour to put themselves in Fortune’s Way, and hope to catch as much as they could of this golden Shower. Hence the Number of Coaches, Post-Chaises, and all other Vehicles of Pleasure, would prodigiously increase; while the usual Sets of Farmer’s Carts and Waggons proportionably decreased: The Sons of lower Tradesmen and Labourers would be converted into spruce, powdered Footmen; and that robust Breed, which used to supply the Calls for laborious Occupations, and common Manufactures, would turn off to commence Barbers and Hair-Dressers, Dancing Masters, Players, Fidlers, Pimps, and Gamesters. As to the Female Sex, it is no difficult Matter to foresee, what would be the Fate of the younger, the more sprightly, and pleasing Part among them. In short, the whole People would take a new Turn; and while Agriculture, and the ordinary mechanic Trades became shamefully neglected, the Professions which subsist by procuring Amusements and Diversions, and exhibiting Allurements and Temptations, would be amazingly increased,—and indeed for a Time enriched; so that from being a Nation of Bees producing Honey, they would become a Nation of Drones to eat it up. In such a Case certain it is, that their industrious Neighbours would soon drain them of this Quantity of Specie,—and not only drain them, so far as to reduce them to a Level with the poor Country, but also sink them into the lowest State of abject Poverty. Perhaps indeed some few of the Inhabitants, being naturally Misers, and foreseeing the general Poverty that was coming upon the Country, would make the more ample Provision for themselves; and, by feeding the Vices, and administering to the Follies and Extravagances of others, would amass and engross great Estates. Therefore when such a Nation came to awake out of this gilded Dream, it would find itself to be much in the same Circumstances of pretended Wealth, but real Poverty, as the Spaniards and Portuguese are at present. Nay, when their Mines, or their former Resources of Gold and Silver, came to fail them, they would really be in a much worse; and their Condition would then approach the nearest of any Thing we can now conceive, to that of Baron and Vassal in Poland and Hungary, or to Planter and Slave in the West-Indies.
According to this System of Reasoning, the Expedition in the late*Spanish War against Carthagena must have been ill-judged in every Particular; for if the End in View had been only to open a Market for British Manufactures, this End was answered, as far as an hostile Method could have answered a commercial End, by taking the Forts at the Mouth of the Haven, and therefore the Attempt ought not to have been pushed any farther:—But if the Design was to destroy the Fortifications round Carthagena, and to give up the Town to the Plunder of the Soldiers, and then to have deserted, or to have restored it to its former Owners at the Conclusion of the War (for surely it would have been the very Height of Madness in us to have been at the Expence of keeping it)—this was an End by no Means worthy of national Attention, and not at all adequate to the Blood and Treasure it must have cost,—even tho’ the Project had succeeded. But if the real Plan was to open a Way to the Spanish Mines by taking the Port or Entrance into them, and so to get rich all at once without Trade or Industry,—this Scheme would have been the most fatal and destructive of any, had not Providence kindly interposed by defeating it. For if we had been victorious, and had vanquished the Spaniards, as they formerly vanquished the Indian Inhabitants, our Fate and Punishment would have been by this Time similar to theirs;—Pride elated with imaginary Wealth, and abject Poverty without Resource.
Hence likewise we may discern the Weakness of one Argument (indeed the only popular one) sometimes insisted on with more Warmth than Judgment in Favour of a general Naturalization, viz. That it would induce such rich Foreigners as are not engaged in any Trade or Business, and consequently would not interfere with any of the Natives, to come and spend their Fortunes in this Land of Liberty. [What is truly to be hoped from a general Naturalization, is, that it would induce industrious and ingenious Foreigners, Men who have their Fortunes yet to make, to come, and enrich the Country at the same Time that they are enriching themselves by their superior Industry, Ingenuity, and other good Qualities.] For as to idle Foreigners, living on the Income of their great Estates,—pray, of what national Advantage would they be to us? What, I say, even supposing we could persuade all the wealthy Foreigners of this Class throughout the World to come and reside in England? The real Fact is, that no other Consequences could ensue, but that this Nation, instead of being chiefly composed of substantial Yeomen, and Farmers, creditable Manufacturers, and opulent Merchants, would then become a Nation of Gentlemen and Ladies on the one Side, and of Footmen and Grooms, Ladies’ Women, and Laundresses, and such like Dependants, on the other. In short, we have Proofs enough already of this Matter, now before our Eyes, and in our own Kingdom, if we will but make the proper Use of them. For Example, the Towns of Birmingham, Leeds, Halifax, Manchester, &c. &c. being inhabited in a Manner altogether by Tradesmen and Manufacturers, are some of the richest and most flourishing in the Kingdom: Whereas the City of York, and such other Places as seem to be more particularly set apart for the Residence of Persons who live upon their Fortunes, are not without evident Marks of Poverty and Decay.
Hence also we come to the true Reason, why the City of Edinburgh, contrary to the Fears and Apprehensions of its Inhabitants, has thriven and flourished more since the Union than it did before, viz. It has lost the Residence of the Court and Parliament, and has got in its Stead, Commerce and Manufactures; that is, it has exchanged Idleness for Industry: And were the Court and Parliament of Ireland to leave Dublin by Virtue of an Union with Great-Britain, the same good Consequences would certainly follow.
[* ]The Reader is desired to bear in Mind, that this Tract was written in the Year 1748, just after the Spanish War.